Corona Arch is one of the best arches you’ll find anywhere. It is located near Moab, Utah in Arch country but is on public land. If you enjoy the arches in Arches National Park, then you need to make the short trip to see Corona Arch as well. It is nearly as good as Delicate Arch but with a fraction of the people. The hike is probably just a bit less difficult. Near Corona arch is Bowtie arch – you’ll see both on this hike.
The hike is scenic enough in its own right. Sandstone bluffs and far expanses offer plenty to look at. My kids enjoyed the cairn forest that previous hikers have erected at one spot and added their own for good measure.
The opening of Corona arch is 110 feet high and wide. Due to its similar appearance to the more famous Rainbow Bridge, it has been called ‘Little Rainbow Bridge’, but it is neither little nor a bridge. It is one of the best arches in Utah, and since it is so easily approached (unlike Landscape Arch), it is more fun to experience. It also doesn’t have the crowds of people to worry about if you want to linger under the arch for a while.
It is hard to describe how cool it is approaching Corona arch. The size is impressive and its overall attractive shape and location allowing for the blue sky to fill the arch makes it very photogenic. Orange-tan stone stands out nicely against the usually cloudless blue sky. Standing or lying under the arch looking upward, you will be awed at how this could have formed naturally. It is not as fragile as Delicate Arch or Landscape arch, but that doesn’t take away from how impressive it is.
The Dangerous Stuff
There are videos on YouTube showing people rigging a giant swing on Corona arch. There have also been deaths for some who have tried to repeat the experience. Corona arch is also used for rappelling at times (guides can be hired to assist). This is not a good rappel for beginners. It is possible to climb to the top of Corona arch, but the trail is difficult and dangerous. It will require hiking up exposed Moki steps – there are pitons and bolted anchors for handlines along the way.
To get Corona Arch from Moab, simply head north on Hwy 191 toward Arches National Park. About 4 miles from Moab, after you cross the Colorado River but before you get to Arches park, turn left on Hwy 279 (Potash Rd). This road follows the Colorado south. Go about 10 miles on Hwy 279 and you’ll see the parking for Corona and Bowtie Arches on the right.
Petroglyphs & Dinosaur Tracks
On your way along hwy 279, watch for the petroglyphs on the bluff to your right (north) and make a stop to take a look. There are also dinosaur tracks – stop at the Poison Spider Trailhead and walk east. The tracks are on a large flat rock on the ridge 200 yards away. After your hike to Corona, continue on Hwy 279 to Jug Handle Arch, which is visible from the Highway but a turnout offers a better view.
The trail is about 1.5 miles each way. The elevations rise a bit (440 feet total) as you go and you’ll cross a railroad track early on. The trail is pretty easy to navigate other than near the end when there is a short ladder and a few Moki steps to climb. Moki steps are carved steps in a stone face. This might prove a little challenging if you have mobility issues, but anyone who can walk the 3 miles needed for this hike will likely not have any trouble doing it. Most children will be able to manage it as well, but child in a backpack could prove difficult and I wouldn’t recommend it with a stroller child. The steps do come near the end of the hike, so you could take turns going the final distance if there is more than one adult in your group.
Wear shoes with good grip as you’ll be walking along slickrock for a good portion of the hike. There is little in the way of shade along the hike. Bowtie arch is before Corona arch, but they are near one another. You’ll see both of them along the same bluff after you round the last corner.
Hot, Hotter, Hottest
The Moab area is hot. It gets really hot in late spring on through late autumn. It is hottest in the summer. Please take plenty of water with you on this hike, cover your head and do not exhaust yourself. There are no services along the trail and while you’re likely to meet a few people, it is not highly trafficked (which is a plus).
To see a list of all the arches and natural bridges I have seen, along with helpful descriptions and directions, go here.